Admissions Interview with Ms. Sheri McKenzie, Vice President of Enrollment Services

Posted in: Admissions

California College of the Arts

When selecting prospective students, what factors are considered by your admissions staff? (e.g. grades, portfolio, class rank, etc.)

CCA takes an individualized approach to the admissions process. Applications are reviewed on the basis of a balanced picture that includes academic achievement (grades), creative ability (portfolio), and artistic and professional career goals (essay and interview). Specifically we require official high school transcripts showing proof of graduation (and college transcripts from transfer applicants), 2 letters of recommendation, portfolio, personal essay, and an interview. For international students, TOEFL score of 550 (or 213 on the computer-based TOEFL) is required. SAT or ACT test scores are highly recommended.

What do you look for in a prospective student’s portfolio?

An admissions portfolio should consist of ten to fifteen images, in slide format, of your best and most recent work. The work can demonstrate course assignments, personal projects, or work experience.

Your portfolio should include work that shows your current interests in a focused series of several images, and additional work that reveals an awareness of formal visual organizational principles and experience with a variety of tools and media, styles, and approaches.

We prefer that the majority of drawings submitted in the portfolio be derived from direct observation rather than other sources (such as photographs). Still life, portrait, figure drawings, landscape, perspective, and diagrammatic drawings are all recommended. Further two-, three-, or four-dimensional work may be abstract or representational and may range from design projects to fine art pieces or installation documentation. In color, we are looking for an understanding and control of color relationships; work from color theory courses should be included.

Transfer Portfolio for Advanced Studio Placement: Transfer students should submit an admissions portfolio consisting of twenty to thirty-five images. We suggest that a portion of the submission reflect studio coursework that you previously completed. A second portion of the submission should represent your current interests. For waivers of the Core entry requirements, include at least five slides of drawing coursework and slides from coursework that demonstrate your experience with two- and three-dimensional organizational principles. For advanced standing in your major, be sure to include slides of work in your area of concentration.

What kinds of things are you looking for in an interview with a prospective student?

Is the student articulate about their work? What are the ideas behind their work? How passionate are they about their discipline? Will they fit with the institution? Overall quality of the portfolio.

What three things can most likely DECREASE their chances of getting accepted?

  • Weak academic grades
  • Weak portfolio
  • Students who are looking for a trade, not an education

How selective are art schools in general?

Every art school is different. It’s hard to make a general statement.

What advice can you provide to students who are trying to get accepted into art schools?

Take as many high school art classes as possible, supplement these classes with summer art programs, community art programs, etc. and don’t let your academic grades slip. Become familiar with contemporary art issues and maintain a disciplined studion practice.

What percentage of applicants to you accept?

69%